Furniture is an essential component to developing a functional space. We use furniture for sitting, eating, working, entertaining, sleeping, and storage. Every space requires different kinds of furniture. What is right for me may not be the right piece of furniture for you. When I used to work in the furniture retail industry I always asked my customers to answer the following questions before we started shopping for their furniture.
- What purpose will it serve? e.i. Is it needed to provide a temporary or long term solution?
- Who will use it? e.i Will it be used every so often by guests or by the main household on a daily basis?
- How long will it be used for? e.i Is it a table that will only be used on occasion or a sofa for the family room that is needed for the next 10-15 years?
- What is your budget for the furniture? Don't say you don't have one because everyone has a budget.
"Expensive furniture doesn't always mean better quality"
Once you've determined the purpose, longevity, and budget for the furniture then you can start researching the right furniture for YOUR needs. Expensive furniture doesn't always mean better quality. For example, if you are looking for an accent chair to place in your guest room, purchasing an antique chair (furniture more than 100 years old) maybe the same cost and MORE durable than a new chair from a high-end retailer.
"Good materials make lasting furniture."
All furniture is not created equal. The best way to figure out how sturdy a piece of furniture should be is to determine what it will be used for. When you are looking for wood furniture, hardwoods (from deciduous trees- like birch, maple, oak, and walnut) are good choices for strong, durable furniture. Materials like pressed wood, particleboard, or MDF (medium density fiberboard) make low quality furniture. Remember that just because a piece of furniture is "finished" in a particular color doesn't mean that is the wood itself. Good materials make lasting furniture.
When you are looking for quality seating like chairs, sofas, loveseats, ottomans, etc. there are layers to examine. It's important to know the construction underneath the finished cover and the material used on the outside. Kiln-dried hardwoods are the best choices for a sturdy frame construction. Make sure you find out what coil spring construction was used for your furniture. Older upholstery was constructed with eight-way hand tied springs, however in today's industry you will find sinuous springs, cone-shaped springs to name a few.
While shopping for quality upholstery you also need to examine the cushion. When I worked in a furniture gallery I use to unzip the seat cushions for the consumer because the contents and assembly of a seat cushion can determine the durability and comfort level of a seat. Most cushions are usually made of high-density polyurethane foam wrapped in a polyester batting. Down can also be wrapped around the foam for a softer comfort and usually found in higher quality cushions. Higher quality cushions will also have an additional layer of muslin to enclose the fillings. Cushions that only are constructed of foam will wear quickly and will not be as comfortable.
DO look at the joints of solid parts in a piece of furniture for mortise & tenon, doweling, dovetail, tongue & groove construction.
DON'T select furniture that has glued joints, exposed nails and staples or backs made of thin cardboard if you are looking for long term use.
DO lookout for wood furniture that have cracks or knots from the wood. This will turn into weak points and overtime break.
DO ask what type of material the furniture is made of.
DON'T purchase a piece of furniture if it makes noise when it is sat on, lifted, or moved. This means that the construction is not sturdy.
DO inspect metal furniture for joints held together by bolts and screws or welded together for sturdiness.
DO sit down and move side to side on the upholstery to make sure you don't sag to one side.
DON'T forget to flip your seat cushions every so often to get more longevity from them.
DO your research on the reputation of furniture manufacturers and/or carpenters. A good reputation is a good gauge of their quality and craftsmanship.
DO ask the retailer for warranty information.
Do you need help shopping for quality furniture that will meet your needs and budget? Choose a design package from my votre chambre by Georgette Marise and I'll create an effective layout, design a concept based for your needs and desires, then create a shopping list so you can start shopping effectively!
Here's to Long, Lasting Furniture!
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